There seems to be a strange new equivalence in the conservative Evangelical mind between those beliefs and practices that seem “Catholic” and those beliefs and practices that seem “Emergent”. I find this quite funny, and a bit odd. I’m tempted to think that perhaps this stems from an inability to form more than one mental category in which to place seeming heresy. Thus the emergent church, an explicitly non-authoritarian, non-sacramental, even postmodern brand of Christianity becomes lumped in with the authority-heavy, mystic-sacramental, premodern practices of the early Church. I’m not sure how to address this. Surely the emergent church is broadly to the left of the Conservative Evangelical church and apostolic Christianity is broadly to the right, thus garnering for both the label of “off-center”, but beyond that I can’t understand the association.
Maybe I don’t understand the Emergent Church enough. This could be my own lack of research, but I wonder if it’s also a fault on the part of McLaren, Jones, and others to sufficiently explain what in the world they’re trying to do with the church. I’ve heard vague language about “getting back to new testament Christianity”, but I’m not sure what this means. If they mean “the church structure and doctrinal emphasis of Ignatius of Antioch”, then the current Evangelical descryers are right about the Catholic/Emergent identification. But I’m pretty sure that this is not what our friendly neighborhood Emerges mean.
So, what’s a Christian to think?